Broken Collarbone

Overview

Collarbone or clavicle is the bone that joins the breastbone to the shoulder blades. Broken or fractured collarbone is an injury that is more common in children and teenagers. This is due to the fact that the collarbone doesn’t harden completely until the age of 20. The common causes of clavicle fractures include injuries due to accidents or fall and sports injuries. Most of the clavicle fractures can be easily cured by the use of ice packs or slings. Pain relievers and physical therapy can provide relief from pain in shorter period of time. However, in cases where a major breakdown of collarbone happens, a broken clavicle treatment is required to realign the bone and hold it in place.

How can a Collarbone Fracture Occur?

The clavicle fracture is a very common injury that can happen to people of all ages. However children and teenagers are more probable to get a collarbone fracture.
This injury can occur due to the following reasons:
  • Slipping onto the shoulder is the most common cause of collarbone fracture. A fall onto an outstretched arm can also cause this injury.
  • Collisions and accidents also are common causes of this injury.
  • Collarbone fractures can also occur in new born babies during the passage through the birth canal.

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What is Clavicle Fracture?

During a clavicle fracture, most commonly, the middle portion of the bone is fractured. However in some cases the bone may break from where it is attached to the breastbone or shoulder blade. The bone may either have just a slight crack or may break into many pieces. In some case, the broken pieces of bone may get displaced far out of place. In such cases, surgery may be required to realign the shattered bones.

When does the Severity Increase?

Collarbone injuries are easy to heal injuries and thus may heal without much difficulty. However, if the broken clavicle causes an injury in the nearby nerve or blood vessels the severity may increase. Also, a fracture at the joint that connects collarbone to breastbone or shoulder blades may lead to osteoarthritis of that joint.

How to Treat a Clavicle Fractures?

Most of the collarbone injuries are not very severe and can be treated by nonsurgical methods. However, it broken pieces of the clavicle are displaced far apart a surgery may be required.
  • Non surgical treatment

    Restricting motion:
    The most common method of healing a broken clavicle is restricting the movement by use of a simple sling. Applying ice pack may further reduce the pain.

    Medication:
    Pain reliever medicines help reduce the pain during the healing process.

    Physical therapies:
    Restricting the movement of the shoulder completely may sometimes result into the stiffening of the shoulder. Basic shoulder and arm exercises help in reducing the stiffening and result in quicker recovery.
  • Surgical treatment

    In cases when the broken pieces of collarbone are displaced far apart from their places, surgery may be advised to realign the bones. During the surgery, the bone pieces are first positioned in their normal alignment. Once the bones are realigned they are held in place by using plates and screws.

    Although, clavicle fracture treatments are simple surgeries but the risk of infection, bleeding and wound healing still exists. These risks may be reduced by choosing a well experienced surgeon and by taking good care of the wound.

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